Brooches and brain work

Blimey, lots has been happening this week. Much of it brainstorming, drawing, researching and article writing. Oh, and quite a bit of plodding along with powerpoint, making slides for a talk that I’m giving next week about my master’s dissertation.  But there was some knitting too…

Brooches for Making Merry

Brooches for Making Merry

I’ve been on a real push lately getting more brooches ready for the Making Merry exhibition in Winchester next month. I sewed all of these together this afternoon whilst watching the marvellous Brief Encounter and drinking many cups of tea.

I was lucky enough to get a review too! My scroll brooches were featured on the Found on Folksy blog this week as part of their Neu Vintage feature. Exciting times!

I’ve been on a real creative kick and much of the research that I mentioned has been in trying to decide what socks would encapsulate the essence of literary characters so I can make more Mrs Miniver socks about their relationships: Holmes and Watson, Crowley and Arizaphale and Jeeves and Wooster are on my list currently, amongst others.

A friend at work lent me The Adventures and Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes so that is proving a great inspiration, not to mention a gripping read. I still can’t quite work out what Holmes socks would be though. He was such a master of disguise. How to get that over in the pattern, material and construction method? (I think Argyle pattern for Watson, by the way: possibly quite loud).

As for Jeeves and Wooster, I found a great 1930s sock pattern in my Nan’s knitting and sewing book, with a false seam up the back of the leg. I will be using that one for Jeeves. His half of the sock will be black, of course. I’m rather tempted to make Bertie Wooster one of those ‘jolly purple socks’ which Jeeves was so disdainful of in The Inimitable Jeeves. Perhaps in silk. After all it was Bertie’s former valet’s theft of some silk socks which caused Jeeves to come into the employment of  Wooster in the first place.


Just an Instuction Leaflet?

Bestway Men's Glove Pattern

Bestway Men's Glove Pattern

Issue 9 of Knit on the Net went live yesterday, and I have my first magazine article published!

I wrote a micro-study of the above men’s glove pattern which has been in my family for three generations. The pattern is well travelled and means different things to different people, having been used a lot for teaching. It has come to mean much more in my family than ‘just a pattern’; it has a whole life of its own with many layers of social connotations.

Teal Bestway Glove 2008

Teal Bestway Glove 2008

The article is adapted from a paper which I first presented at University of Southampton’s In the Loop knitting conference last summer. This is the first time I have submitted an article to be published. When I saw the theme was ‘techniques and traditions’ I thought it might fit right in, so I was delighted when editor Susan Crawford accepted it.

Issue 9, Wanderlust has lots to read and includes some really good patterns: go take a look.

I’m off to make a Mia hat.

as yet untitled

I’ve just finished making this work.

It is the final piece resulting from the UFO I received from Rachael Matthews. I’d love to know what you think it is about (without me telling you any more). This isn’t a test. I’m genuinely interested in how people interpret things with no written clues.

Please leave any suggestions in the comments.

a week of knitting in public

I knit on the train most days. I really enjoy the extra layer of rhythm that the clicking of the needles adds to the jolting of the train on the tracks. Sometimes people might comment or ask what I’m doing; mostly they have a quick look and get on with their thing. In short, I’m used to knitting in public; but this week public knitting was taken to a whole new level for me.

As previously mentioned, I took part in a university library outreach programme in Winchester this past week. The Knitting Reference Library held an exhibition in a small gallery space, ‘Cornershop’ which had once been a pet shop. Set up like a living room,’The Knitting Room’ had plenty of places to sit and look at patterns from the library or read knitting books. An exhibition of knitted objects from the handling collection were suspended from fishing line in the large bay window and duplicate vintage patterns displayed in the windows.  I was invigilating for a good part of the week, and knitted in public like never before (and knitted over half a cardigan). I think that some people thought that we were an art installation, and certainly it felt like that at times! We taught plenty of people, young and old to knit. On the second weekend, 13th and 14th June, it was World Wide Knit in Public Days and all week we were very much encouraging people to come in and have a go. Lots did.

Throughout the week the library staff and I taught people to knit from scratch, how to make pompoms and helped knitters to learn new techniques. I think we had about 10 brand new knitters in total and 6 pompom-makers! It was great to have a selection of knitting books on hand which supplemented my own knowledge. I tend to teach knitting by showing the person how by ‘doing’ in the first instance, but needed a reference for things like cabling.

It  was a really fun week and the exhibition worked on many levels. Many more people know about and will be using the Knitting Reference Library now, there was a coming together of existing knitters and the beginnings of new knitters. Two artists came in and made a sound recording of the gathering, which will lead on to further work as well. The Knitting Room became a focus for discussion and debate on the culture, heritage and process of knitting for the week. I’m hoping for this discussion to continue on in a range of media too.

From a personal point of view, I particularly enjoyed the interaction with other artists and knitters: bouncing ideas around, learning new techniques and planning new artwork. I got an awful lot out of the experience of teaching. Although I teach people to knit on a fairly regular basis, I’d not taught children to knit before: well, no under 10s anyway. I’ll be reflecting on how it all went and what I’ve learned from it  in a separate blog post later in the week.

I’d love to hear from you if you came to the Knitting Room last week. What did you think of it?

Also, go and visit Cornershop if you are in Winchester to see Winchester School of Art’s Textile Art 3rd year student Bethany Mitchell‘s You and Whose Army? which she will be installing this coming week.

n.b. All photographs © Ingrid Murnane and used with the permission of those photographed, or their parents.

world wide knit in public days

WWKIP days 2009 are on the 13th and 14th June. I have taken part for the last two years and it has been great fun. The idea is that knitting, a generally solitary act is brought out into the wider sphere. I knit in public most days, especially if I’m travelling on a train or bus, but the collective experience of knitting with a large group of people is entirely different to that (you don’t get the nosy people on trains asking if you’re knitting them a scarf when it is obviously socks for a start!)

World Wide Knit in Public Day 2007 by Todd Huffman. Used under Creative Commons.

World Wide Knit in Public Day 2007 by Todd Huffman. Used under Creative Commons.

I like that it gives a sense of community that I might usually only get when I attend a knitting group, but the thing about WWKIP day is that these are people that I might never have met before. They will have new ideas about knitting, techniques which I’ve never seen before, ways in which they hold the needles that are different to mine, even yarns which I’ve never heard of.  I have learned to knit lace and cables, had books and patterns recommended to me and myself, taught three people to knit in past years. It is a time to share ideas and be open to learning new and exciting things.

The Cornershop, Winchester by Zabdiel. Used under Creative Commons.

The Cornershop, Winchester by Zabdiel. Used under Creative Commons.

This year I’m going to be at the Cornershop gallery in Winchester (just behind the Hambledon on St Thomas’ Street) where Linda Newington from Winchester School of Art will have an interactive exhibition of items from the Knitting Reference Library. There will be a knitting lounge, reminiscent of that set up at the In the Loop conference last year. I’ll be there knitting and teaching on both days and also during part of the previous week (more details to follow).

It all looks to be great fun: hope you can join us, or if not please do visit the Knitting Reference Library at WSA if you’re round that way sometime. It holds the collections of knitters and knitting historians Montse Stanley, Richard Rutt and Jane Waller as its basis and is a brilliant resource. There are books, patterns, knitted objects, tools, photographs and magazines. The librarians are really helpful with finding all sorts of weird and wonderful stuff, and it is definitely not to be missed if you’re at all interested in the history of knitting.